SPRINGFIELD, S.D. – Domestic Violence (DV) is a harsh reality for Indian Country, 4 out of 5 American Indian/Alaska Native women are suffering from domestic violence and/or sexual assault.
Nearly every reservation in this state has a shelter offering safety for Lakota women who have been battered by their husband, boyfriend or companion. These shelters offer a safe haven for women and their children who want to get away from an abuser.
Also, active and/or unsolved cases of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) continue to grow in all our communities. The Red Dress has become a global symbol of MMIW. Many artists have incorporated the Red Dress into their artwork.
Last winter, artists from the South Dakota State Prison facilities created 200 pairs of earrings and donating sales proceeds to both the Urban Indian Health Center in Sioux Falls and the Red Ribbon Skirt Society of the Black Hills. Currently, artists are working on creating twice as many earrings to raise funds for a donation to the Where All Women Are Honored – Winyan Wicayuonihan Oyanke Shelter in Rapid City, SD.
“This project is a way for us to give back to our women, my family and community,” stated Cody Hopkins, an Oglala Lakota spokesman for the project. A goal was to have all the earrings done by the April 2020 wacipi. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed the project down. Still, approximately 20 artists are working hard to create earrings for sale.
Artists hope to offer several hundred pairs of Red Dress earrings for sale. Each pair is being sold for $25 – plus a $5 shipping charge – which totals $30. You can pay through PayPal by emailing Melissa Montgomery at email@example.com.
All money raised from sales will be donated to the Where All Women Are Honored – Winyan Wicayuonihan Oyanke Shelter in Rapid City, SD. Executive Director Norma Rendon founded this safe space for women and children wanting to leave abusive situations. Artists are hoping to raise $5,000 to donate to this facility.
“We want to raise awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women,” added Hopkins. “Everything we make will go back to serving women and children in the Lakota community. This is just one of several fundraisers we want to do for our relatives.”
The Lakota and other Indigenous men behind the walls in Sioux Falls and Yankton depend on their spirituality to stay grounded. During the pandemic, their access to Inipi and other ceremony is limited because of social distancing rules. Lakota spirituality has helped most of the men to adopt a healthier view of themselves, as well as women and children. They are able to see how their crimes directly affected the women and children.
“We are sorry for the hurt and pain we’ve caused our family and other relatives,” Hopkins stated. “We want to give back to the community. We pray for all women and children who are still suffering trauma. Making and selling the Red Dress earrings are just one way to give back.”
Supplies for the fundraiser were purchased out of pocket by the artists. Information on the Red Dress earrings are posted on the Ground Zero for Voices Facebook page. You can also email Melissa Montgomery at firstname.lastname@example.org to buy a pair.